Here are some of the warning signs that an individual may not be who they say they are:

  • You meet someone online and after just a few contacts or a short time, they profess their love or strong feelings for you.
  • They ask you to start communicating by text or personal email, away from the original site you met on.
  • Their profile you read on the site might not match with everything they tell you.
  • After gaining your trust, they start telling you stories of bad luck or medical illnesses.
  • They indirectly/or directly ask for money, gift cards, or money to pay credit cards.
  • Their messages could be poorly written, inconsistent, and sometimes vague.
  • They offer various excuses for why they can’t show you more photos or pictures of themselves.
  • They delay meeting in person or talking with you on a video chat.
  • When you do agree to meet, they cancel or postpone due to some emergency.

If you think you or someone you know has been affected by a romance imposter scam, we recommend that you act immediately, by following our guidelines below, and then proceed to our ReportRecover, andReinforce sections for further assistance.

Some Immediate Action Steps to Take

  • Stop all contact with that individual.
  • Block your phone, email, and/or social media address from the user.
  • Contact your bank or financial institution to close or change any compromised accounts.
  • Gather together any saved information, messages, pictures about the individual. You may need to provide this information when you file a report.
  • Reach out to a friend, family member or counselor who can help you with the emotional difficulties.

Report

Reporting cybercrime incidents to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is very important! The more national reporting data that is collected, the better the chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease online crime. Although the FBI does not resolve individual complaints directly, they will make your report available to local, state and other law enforcement partners. The FAQs about reporting can be found here. Please read the FBI/IC3 privacy policy here. (If you believe that you’ve received a phishing email, please forward the email directly to spam@uce.gov and
reportphishing@apwg.org.)

Recover

These resources have been gathered, selected and vetted to help simplify the process of recovering after a cybercrime incident has taken place. You may need to contact organizations outside Fraudsupport.org. Results will vary depending on your circumstances.

Reinforce

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations and you are on the road to recovery, it is time to reinforce your cybersecurity, using these resources and tools.

Report the Issue to the Dating / Social Networking Site

Contact the Money Service Company You May Have Used and Report the Fraud

Contact Credit Reporting Agencies to Monitor Your Accounts

Implement Preventive Measures

  • Run a Google search of the name, address, or any additional contact information the individual has posted to his or her profile.
  • Run any images/pictures the individual posted through a reverse-image search engine, such as Google Images or TinEye.
  • If you have any doubts or suspicions about an individual, consider using an online background search service (e.g., BeenVerified).

Operation Safe Escape

  • Operation Safe Escape is an organization of cybersecurity experts who tackle some of the unique challenges of domestic violence victims. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs help with disconnecting their online accounts and devices from their abuser, learn more about Operation Safe Escape.
  • The group can help identify if an abuser has installed a spy app – such as Spy Phone App, Spyzie, or Spyera – on a cell phone or mobile device.
  • The organization uses self-‘doxing,’, private networks and incognito apps to help keep victims safe.

Helpful Videos

FTC: Online Romance Imposter Scams